making West Coast and New England-style IPAs these days, so it’s
surprisingly (and pleasantly so) to see a Vermont-based brewing making
not only a fairly traditional East Coast-style IPA, but an excellent one
at that. 14th Star Tribute is the Double IPA for old school IPA
enthusiasts, as well as acolytes who should appreciate the style since
they’ve done it so well.
I poured a 16oz can into a tulip glass. It was canned on 8/4/15 and cost $3.25 ($0.20 per ounce). Thanks to Jon H. for this can!
Appearance: Typical IPA orange color; slightly cloudy but with still
plenty of transparency. Pours to a three-finger, white, foamy head which
retains and laces fairly well.
Smell: Citrusy juice concentrate along with notes of dill or cilantro
and a general herbal scent. Some pine too, though it is not strongly
Taste: I went into this beer expecting another Heady Topper wannabe
(which would’ve been fine by me since those kind of beers tend to taste
great), but when I got was a callback to the overlooked East Coast style
IPA, and a double version at that. Instead of being a spice and herb
bomb, this is actually quite well balanced with hop flavor that’s mostly
pine and resin up front and sweet citrus in the back. There’s an earthy
character throughout the palette – pine needles and straight up sap are
detectable. Lurking in the background I notice faint spice rack flavors
(dill, garlic, parsley, etc.). Most NEIPAs feature these
front-and-center with pine and citrus in the background, but here it’s
the opposite. I really enjoy the orange juice concentrate on the finish
along with a dry, mildly herbal zestiness. The malt is strong enough to
provide balance, though the beer is not particularly sweet. At only 65
IBUs, there’s plenty of bite to this brew, but it’s not overwhelming.
Drinkability: The very thing I noticed upon my first swig was how soft
and comfortable the mouthfeel was. Up front, it’s smooth with a full
body; yet it finishes with a light carbonation crisp bite. Most NEIPAs
tend to drink like milkshakes, but 14th Star Tribute Double IPA drinks
like an actual double IPA. The 8.4% ABV is well masked as there’s no
alcohol presence in the aroma, taste or mouthfeel. There’s a lingering
bitterness from the hops, but it’s easily overlooked. I could see this
beer pairing perfectly with a lot of savory foods, but enjoying it on
its own is a pleasure too.